Melrose topples Watertown
WOBURN - The Woburn Tanners were out of town last night, and with Watertown and Melrose both displaced by field renovations, Connolly Memorial Stadium was alive with Red Raiders supporters.
“Last year we didn’t have that good of a year,’’ Melrose defensive back Matt DeSimone said. “So we started winning and then we got the fans behind us . . . we had plenty of fans here tonight and for the far away games we try to get a fan bus or something.’’
The Melrose Red Raiders (6-1, 1-1 Middlesex Small) ended their seven-week road trip on a high note with a 35-7 shellacking of the Watertown Red Raiders in front of a large group their fans, who have traveled in droves throughout the first half of the season. Melrose will play on its new home field for the first time Nov. 4 against Arlington.
Watertown (6-1, 1-1 Middlesex Small) lost the chance for its first perfect season in 34 years.
Melrose entered halftime leading, 14-7, but pulled away by the end of the third quarter on touchdowns from Paul Hanson and Bryan Reale.
On the second offensive possession of the quarter, Reale (6-of-7 passing, 125 yards) hit Hanson on a slant for an 80-yard touchdown to put Melrose ahead, 21-7. DeSimone intercepted Watertown quarterback Joey Farrar for the second time on the ensuing drive, leading to a 30-yard touchdown run by Reale, his third of the game.
Watertown had a chance to cut the deficit in half with more than six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but was stopped four times from inside the 5. On third and goal, DeSimone broke up what looked to be sure catch in the corner of the end zone by T.J. Hairston.
“I just tried to stay on the man,’’ DeSimone said. “As soon as you see his eyes light up, you know the ball’s in the air and as soon as he caught it I just hit it out.’’
DeSimone’s first interception came on the opening drive of the game, and Reale wasted no time in turning the Watertown miscue into points with a 68-yard run down the left hashmarks.
Watertown tied the score at 7 with just over six minutes remaining in the half after a botched play by Melrose gave it the ball at the Melrose 35. After a 7-yard run by Logan Riley and two incompletions by Farrar, coach John Cacace decided to go for it on fourth-and-3 from the 15. The gamble paid off when Gio Ortiz made a spectacular catch in the corner of the end zone on a ball that was tipped by Nick Campbell of Melrose.
Melrose answered back with an 11-play drive on the strength of runs by Reale, Spencer Walsh, and CJ Hanson. The end result was Reale’s second touchdown. Melrose converted three third downs on the drive.
“They’re just two good, tough backs,’’ Melrose coach Tim Morris said of Walsh and Hanson. “Watertown did a good job in the beginning of the game slowing down our run game . . . so every yard they got was tough yardage.’’
Melrose plays at Wilmington next Friday.